State News : Texas

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The Division of Workers' Compensation recently held hearings on the DWC proposed rules intended to provide guidelines for  penalties for Carrier administrative violations. The proposed rules, required by the Legislature, grew out of complaints by stakeholders that the Division's current method of levying penalties were inconsistent of overly harsh with little explanation of how a penalty was derived.

In Senate Bill 1895, the Legislature amended the Texas Labor Code Section 415.021, to require the Division to adopt rules to provide a degree of consistency and fairness to the administrative penalties imposed by the Division:

     (c-1)  The commissioner shall adopt rules that require the



division, in the assessment of an administrative penalty against a


person, to communicate to the person information about the penalty,




             (1)  the relevant statute or rule violated;


             (2)  the conduct that gave rise to the violation; and


             (3)  the factors considered in determining the penalty.

The Division's proposed rule revises current DWC Rule 180.26(d), to simply add the statutory language outlined above:

         (d)  In addition to, or in lieu of, the sanctions in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, the division may impose any other sanction or remedy allowed under the Act or division rules, including but not limited to assessing an administrative penalty of up to $25,000 per violation against a person who commits an administrative violation.When assessing an administrative penalty against a person the division will communicate to the person:

                     (1) The relevant statute or rule violated;
                     (2) The conduct that gave rise to the violation; and
                     (3) The factors considered in determining the penalty.

(The proposed additional language is underlined above).

At the public hearing, stakeholders voiced the need for additional requirements to ensure the Division discloses how the penalties imposed are derived. The Division's final rule has not yet been issued.

-  Copyright 2018, Dan PriceStone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP